Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla, India, always knew he was different. As a young teen, Mavendra found the reason for that difference: he realized he was gay. Unfortunately, this revelation posed several problems for the young man. For one thing, homosexuality was a criminal offense in India at the time. For another, Mavendra is in line to become the country’s 29th Maharaja. He is the world’s first openly gay royal.
Mavendra is one of three single royals featured in the new TCL dating series Undercover Princes and was recently interviewed by The Advocate. In the interview, the prince discusses his public coming out in 2006 and the controversy it stirred. Other gay royals, still closeted, worried that he might betray them and worked to undermine Mavendra’s reputation. They encouraged public burning of effigies and called for Mavendra’s titles to be stripped. Anti-gay sentiment ran high.
“[The other royals] wanted to break my popularity, so that’s the reason they instigated the people against me,” he told The Advocate. But Prince Mavendra didn’t blame the public. “I blame their ignorance. They have a lot of misconceptions about homosexuality, so that’s the reason they acted in this manner.”
In 1995, before he came out, Prince Mavendra became involved with campaigns to raising awareness for HIV/AIDS. He explained that in India, “[marriage] is compulsory for everyone. We have said that 85% of men, homosexual men, get married to women. So they are living a double-standard life.”